Read Genesis 37:5-11, 19-27
Of all the Patriarchs, the one the Scriptures most attention to is Joseph, a type of Christ in so many ways. Joseph was the son of Jacob in his old age and therefore the favorite. As the favored son, Joseph was given expensive gifts reflected in the alleged “coat of many colors.”
In the ancient world, dye was extremely expensive. To have one color was expensive. To have a coat of many colors was an extraordinary gift which would drive others to jealousy. “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors” (Gen. 37:3).
One of the most popular stories in the Bible involves Joseph’s “coat of many colors.” I am almost afraid to share the truth about the robe. It is close to telling children there is no Santa Clause. However, the truth is that Joseph was not given “a coat of many colors.” He was given “a long-sleeved robe.” A “long-sleeved robe” represented maturity and honor. It also represented the fact that Jacob loved Joseph more than all his brothers. The predictable result was that the brothers of Joseph hated him for hatred is the natural outgrowth of jealousy.
It is instructive to note that the heroes of Hebrew Scripture are portrayed “warts” and all. There is no attempt to hide the harm they did to themselves, and to others, while being virtuous in other areas. There is no idealized presentation of the Biblical heroes. If there is an exception to this, it is found in Joseph who is consistently found faithful to the Lord.
When Joseph is first introduced, he is seventeen years old and not fully mature in social graces. When he had a dream that exalted himself, Joseph shared that dream with others, much to their chagrin. “And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more” (Gen. 37:5).Insensitive to their hostility towards him, or perhaps because of it, Joseph shared two dreams with the implications being all too clear. One day his brothers would bow before him.
The Dream of the Sheaves
“For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf” (Gen. 37:7).
The Dream of the Sun, Moon, and Stars
“And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me” (Gen. 37:9).
While the dreams were prophetic, at the time they were delivered, they sounded prideful. It was all too much for the brothers of Joseph. With jealous rage they were determined to kill Joseph. Joseph went to visit his brethren, and found them in Dothan. “And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him” (Gen. 37:18).
In their hatred for Joseph, his brothers were willing to violate the basic laws of society. They were ready to kill. They were ready to lie. They were covetous of the position their brother Joseph held. Covetousness leads to other sin such as murder. The brothers of Joseph devised a plan to take the tunic of Joseph, smear it with the blood of an animal and then tell their father, Jacob, Joseph had been killed by a wild beast.
Only in the providence of God was this plan changed. At least part of the plan was changed. Joseph was not killed but sold into slavery to the Midianites for twenty pieces of silver. However, his tunic was taken, smeared with blood and presented to father Jacob with the narrative that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast. “And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; 32 And they sent the coat of many colors, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no. 33 And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. 34 And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days” (Gen. 37:31-34).
While Jacob grieved, believing his son was dead, Joseph was taken by the Midianites to Egypt where he was resold to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, and captain of the guard. Potiphar put Joseph to work as his private slave.
The story continues…
Time must be taken to notice the truth about jealousy.
First, there is an unforgiving element to jealousy, for a key component is burning rage.
Second, when individuals do not arrest the slightest outburst of unsanctified anger, the potential increases for self-destructive, and other destructive, behavior. “For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance” (Prov. 6:34).
Third, a jealous person is a mean, and cruel person, in as far as they consider and manifest their jealousy. “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame” (Song of Solomon 8:6).
“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-ey’d monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.”
― William Shakespeare, Othello